How to Avoid Excessive Charges on Smartphone Usage

Using the Internet capability of smartphones result in excessive charges from mobile phone companies.  Aware of the problem, the National Telecommunication (NTC) of the Philippines told mobile phone manufacturers and telecommunication companies to explain the settings of smartphones to their subscribers who are shocked by high Internet and roaming charges.

"Until now the commission still receives several complaints on bill shock," the NTC said in a memorandum, which contains new guidelines for telecommunication companies.

The NTC said dealers or retailers of smartphones such as iPhones and Blackberry should inform the buyers of the setting for Internet access and appropriate charges for their usage.

"Upon the request of the buyers, the Internet access shall be disabled," the NTC said.

Google earlier revealed that the current smartphone penetration rate is now at 39 percent, citing market research firm Ipsos MediaCT’s recent survey on smartphone usage in the Philippines. 

The NTC said mobile-phone service providers should inform their subscribers/users that there were charges for accessing the Internet using their mobile phones. 
"A notice shall be sent to subscribers attempting to access the Internet through their mobile phones that access to the Internet shall be charged 'x' amount per hour or per volume," the NTC said.

The regulator said subscribers should have the option not to use the service.   "Provide Internet access service only to subscribers/users who opted to avail such services," the NTC said.

The NTC also requires service providers to send reminders to subscribers/users who had consumed at least 50 percent of their credit limit through text messages.  It also urged operators to send text messages to subscribers/users who had availed of roaming services, informing their subscribers/users to access their websites for information on the applicable service rates and roaming charges. 

"The information shall be sent after the subscribers/users are acknowledged by the roaming partner," it said.

The NTC asked telcos to conduct an information drive on the capabilities of the smartphones and the responsibilities of their respective subscribers on the use of such smartphones. 

"All telcos are directed to make sure that subscribers are fully informed through text alerts and voice calls or other means of the rates and conditions of access to data roaming services," the NTC said.

All telcos were directed to inform their subscribers of the procedure on how to avail of the data roaming services and how to opt out.


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